A cluster of ancient streets
Napoleon Bonaparte memorabilia
A XV century citadel

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Mild climate, relaxation and chic bars

During your cruise of the Mediterranean with MSC Cruises, how about a nice shore excursion to Corsica?

Ajaccio is a relaxed and good-looking place for a visit to Corsica, with an exceptionally mild climate, and a wealth of smart cafés, restaurants and shops. The core of the old town of Ajaccio – a cluster of ancient streets spreading north and south of place Foch, which opens out to the seafront by the port and the marina – holds the most interest.

Nearby, to the west, place de Gaulle forms the modern centre and is the source of the main thoroughfare, cours Napoléon, which extends parallel to the sea almost 2 km to the northeast. West of place de Gaulle stretches the modern part of town fronted by the beach, overlooked at its eastern end by the citadelle. Once the site of the town’s medieval gate, place Foch lies at the heart of old Ajaccio.

A delightfully shady square sloping down to the sea, it gets its local name – place des Palmiers – from the row of palms bordering the central strip. Dominating the top end, a fountain of four marble lions provides a mount for the inevitable statue of Napoleon. The south side of place Foch, standing on the former dividing line between the poor district around the port and the bourgeoisie’s territory, gives access to rue Bonaparte, the main route through the latter quarter. 

Built on the promontory rising to the citadelle, the secluded streets in this part of town – with their dusty buildings and hole-in-the-wall restaurants lit by flashes of sea or sky at the end of the alleys – retain more of a sense of the old Ajaccio than anywhere else.

Must see places in Ajaccio

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    A discrete and slightly snobbish charm
    A discrete and slightly snobbish charm

    A holiday to southern France will take you to heaven. This Garden of Eden encompasses the snow-peaked lower Alps and their foothills, which in the east descend right to the sea, and to the west extend almost to the Rhône.

    The coastal hinterland is made up of range after range of steep, forested hills, while the shore is an ever-changing series of geometric bays giving way to chaotic outcrops of glimmering rock and deep, narrow inlets, like miniature fjords – the calanques. All these elements would count for nothing, however, were it not for the magical Mediterranean light. At its best in spring and autumn, it is both soft and brightly theatrical, as if some expert had rigged the lighting for each landscape for maximum colour and definition with minimum glare. A cruise to southern France is a good opportunity to visit the capital of the Riviera, Nice – a vibrant and intriguing blend of Italianate influence, faded Belle Époque splendour and first-class art.

    East of the city, the lower Corniche links the picturesque seafront towns of Villefranche, St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and Beaulieu; the higher roads offer some of the most spectacular coastal driving in Europe, en route to the perched village of Èze and the tiny principality of Monaco. The Riviera’s western half claims its best beaches – at jazzy Juan-les-Pins and at Cannes, a glitzy centre of designer shopping and film.